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Archive for the ‘cakes’ Category

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I had two pressing matters last week. First, I needed to make some space in my freezer, which was packed to the gills. Second, I needed a coffeecake. The situation I was facing was not an unusual one in my world; I was helping two friends, one a butcher and one a photographer, with a photoshoot. They had procured a big, beautiful pig and over the course of two busy days were going to break down (i.e. butcher into various cuts) and photograph the beast. Hence my needs: I knew I’d be coming home with a lot of beautiful pork and nowhere to put it and I knew with no budget, there would be no lush breakfast funded by a paying client. As happens with weekend shoots, we’d be tired and hungry, necessitating a continuous flow of coffee and sugar. I perused the contents of my freezer and pulled out a bag of fat blueberries I’d frozen last summer. A coffeecake was in the works. Something nice to start two very busy, intense days.

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Why does coconut signify springtime? Is it all the lamb cakes that pop up at Easter time, thickly frosted and covered in a coat of shredded coconut? Do coconuts represent warm tropical climates just when our brains crave some sign, no matter how little, of sun and warmth and a new season? I’m not really sure but I woke up the other day with a craving for coconut pound cake. Go figure.

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I am a pudding fan, pudding of any sort: chocolate, butterscotch, rice, tapioca, flan, creme caramel, pots de creme, whatever. Sign me up. I was poking around the internet not long ago, as I do, and a recipe on Food52 caught my eye. Torta di Riso alla Carrarina. It was a rice pudding cake. Holy moly. A cake made of rice pudding on the bottom with a thick custardy layer, almost a flan, on top. I needed to do this. With Easter coming up, what better? I had a pile of leftover candied clementines from the Orange Chocolate Angel Food Cake I made last month that would be a delightful addition. That sealed the deal. Rice pudding cake, you would be mine.

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I have a banana problem. Maybe you do too. I frequently buy a few and never get around to eating more than one. So why don’t I buy them just one a time? Who knows. Maybe somewhere deep in my subconscious, a single banana is a sad, solitary thing. Maybe it needs a friend. Instead, I let the extras sit on the counter, first spotting then slowly turning from brown to darker brown and perfuming the kitchen with their sweet, cloying scent. Yep. Welcome to my life. Then, when I get around to it, I’ll peel the squishy things and pop them into a Ziploc which is shoved mercilessly into the freezer to deal with at a later time. Which is when the fun starts because now they’re ready for banana bread at the drop of a hat. And I do so love banana bread. Which is also great because guess what?? It’s National Banana Bread Day! YES! Another weird wacky food holiday on my recent list of weird wacky food holidays!

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I’ll be honest. I’ve been working on this recipe on and off for several years and it has aggravated me to no end. Originally, I wanted to use some excess Mexican chocolate I had on hand and having done hot chocolate, cookies and popsicles I thought a poundcake would be a wonderful addition. Sure. Guess again. According to my notes I worked through six different recipes, all of them duds. Terrible. I used up all the chocolate and then had to buy more. I wasn’t alleviating a problem, I was creating one. In frustration, I shelved it for almost a year.

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I have a fascination with candied citrus. It’s delicious, particularly when well executed and dipped in dark chocolate. I credit this to my Grandmother. She loved strips of candied orange rind but only the real stuff – no terrible orange jelly strips in cheap, waxy chocolate for her! Oh no, it was the expensive, slowly candied rind dipped in high quality dark chocolate or nothing. On my visits to Chicago, we’d wander down to the basement of Marshall Fields and find our way among the beautiful candy counters, looking for just the right treats. Oh how I miss Marshall Fields and their beautiful candy department! It’s just not the same these days, not even close.

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1tower.lrg.IMG_6535Last Friday was World Nutella Day and according to the internet, nearly every day of the year has something delicious attached to it, sometimes more than one per day, week and month. I’ve always been intrigued by these “food holidays” and wondered how they come to be. How does February become “National Cherry Month” when cherries really aren’t in season until June or July? Or who decides that February 7 is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day? And why? A little research revealed that one can petition various government institutions – local, state and federal – for special days. Individuals, trade associations or PR firms can file a petition to honor all sorts of things – industries, professions, even hobbies. There may even be duplicates, which is why there are two National Guacamole Days during the year, authorized at different levels of government. Which is good because as we all know, one Guacamole Day certainly isn’t enough. I really hope these petitions stay at the local level, as I hate to think of the POTUS taking time out from his/her day running the country to commemorate special events for guacamole, alfredo or cherries. I shudder at the thought.

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